Broadly speaking


FULL OF BEANS An inexpensive source of lean protein, broad beans contain lots of thiamin, vitamins K and B-6, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc and magnesium.

Redmond Cabot

The broad bean is the first of the legume family to produce a crop. The important fixers of nitrogen in the garden are relatively prolific and easy to grow, excepting the annoying presence of blackfly.
Early-season beans have an attractive green, verdant quality that smacks of goodness. Excellent with garlic and oil, or cooked with cream. The very early pods can also be eaten whole when cooked, before they develop stringiness and toughness.
There is one school of thought that says you should remove the outer skin of each of the individual beans … I view the whole bean as nature’s creation, and it must have been created that way for a valid reason, so I never remove the outside skin.
Out at Carrighskeewaun, Killadoon, my father farms, as well as sheep, a small polytunnel. This year he got on top of it early, with some able assistance from friends, and now its bursting with life – lettuce, cucumber, courgette, chives, sweetcorn, parsley, Swiss chard and of course the broad beans.
The key with broad beans is to keep picking them; the more you pick them the more they will grow. So we keep picking them and they keep coming. Alas, this cuts no mustard when Little Louis and Penny want to do the same with my father’s more precious strawberry crop.

Outside lunches
Summer-eating rhythms are upon us now. The great question: How to integrate eating outside with the ever-changing Atlantic and continental weather systems that we live between. The Big Picnic Westport enjoyed a veritable feast of eating outdoors two Saturdays ago, yet the following day was a wet stinker. No amount of planning can account for our weather. My answer is that planning should be ad hoc and versatile – make plans but be prepared to change!
Traditionally people tend to cook broad beans with bacon or chorizo, so here are two vegetarian options for this seasonal wonder, perfect for outside meals, when the sun does cooperate. You can vary the ingredients and flavours to your liking.

Broad bean pâté
This hummus can be pre-made and used for lunches at home or out and about. Stored in a container in the fridge, it will last for several days.

What you need

  • 300g broad beans
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Juice and zest of one small lemon
  • Good dash olive oil
  • Seasoning
  • Sourdough bread and goats’ cheese (serving suggestion)

What you do
Bring the beans to boil in salted water and simmer for three minutes. Separately, heat the oil in a pan and cook the smashed garlic cloves for two minutes to infuse the oil with flavor – careful not to overcook or burn the garlic. Let cool, and simply whizz all ingredients together, season, and place in a serving bowl. Serve with lovely sourdough bread and maybe some crumbled goats’ cheese.

Broad bean herb dip
This simple recipe uses different flavours to make another pâté or dip.

What you need

  • 300g broad beans
  • 150g cream
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 150ml olive oil
  • Spring onions and chilli powder to garnish

What you do
You can mash or Mouli the beans raw, which will separate the skins from the beans so they can be removed – or cook first and blitz everything if you prefer, and you don’t mind the skins being in there. (A Mouli is a hand-operated kitchen grater that grates or purees small quantities of food.)
Place your mash in a bowl and add the cream, finely chopped garlic, and then all the other ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Season and garnish with chopped spring onion and a dusting of chilli powder.

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.